Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Burma Shave...

OK, look... I'm fixing to make my last post, Pilgrim.

Why? Baby Joe here will explain the situation. He knows what he's talking about and you don't need a curmudgeon like me to show you how to ice skate.

Why? You won't need me anymore and I can put my knowledge to more profitable use buying puts against Microsoft and buying calls on Sun and Apple.

Why? Because the distinctions between what really is and what will really be (important to know in ice skating as the distance passes over time so much more suddenly) will be so distinct you won't need to draw dotted lines anymore... that is, unless you would like a custom cut.

Why? Because I've had enough practice typing and now I want to write a book or a magazine article or maybe an essay or an editorial page or maybe a diary or a journal or maybe a whitepaper or a pamphlet or maybe dancing instructions on a cereal box.

Why? Who knows? I just need a change of scenery. Different words or something. Same place same time; just different letters.

Why? Because you need to learn to ice skate on your own and I'm too heavy for the ice. I scare people when I slide on out there. They think a polar bear is going to eat the Zamboni.

Why? Shut up and read this and have some patience. Yes. More patience. Don't worry, your Mother will take good care of you. Wipe your nose.

May 16, 2007 10:35 AM
Is Vista One Step Ahead?

Joe Wilcox
Joe Wilcox

I couldn't tell if Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was being passive, subtle or a disorganized speaker. But he half made an allusion yesterday that aptly sums up Microsoft's perspective on the state of Windows Vista.

Very early on in his WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) keynote, Bill Gates put up a slide referring back to the year 1992. He said:

"Here we've got a picture going back, and 1992 graphics interface was a very controversial thing. People thought, gee, this is too slow, too hard to develop the software, and, in a sense, they were right. The hardware actually wasn't ready. Graphics interface was a case where we got out in front, and made sure that developers, and tools, and hardware came along."

The key phrase is "got out in front" of software developers and hardware manufacturers. Gates continued:

"But by 1995, with Windows 95, the investments that we had all made in that graphics approach really started to pay off, and the breadth and richness of the applications that came out of that were far better than the character-mode applications, and that's a foundation we've had to build on ever since that time. In fact, that's the foundation that gave us the critical mass of machines for the Internet connectivity, and Web sites could really explode."

I disagree that Microsoft's investment in graphical interfaces led to the explosion of the Web. Tim Berners-Lee's first Web server and browser predates the release of Windows 3.1, in early 1992. But that topic is digression. Windows 95 also jumped ahead of developers, because Microsoft moved from a 16-bit to pseudo-32-bit operating system.

Gates didn't mention Windows Vista in context of Windows 3.1 and the GUI. But the unsaid was said by implication, in context of his whole keynote: Vista is one, or even a couple, steps ahead of current hardware and software development. I have to agree.

There's no secret where Microsoft was headed. During its 2003 developer conference, Microsoft brought out Vista, then code-name Longhorn, for demonstration. The features that were clearly already far along—mainly the WinFX components—made the final cut. There was always going to be a new graphics subsystem that would increase capabilities but also put new demands on hardware and require software changes.

In a speech given at the conference, Gates also made clear Windows Longhorn hardware design goals, by explaining what the company expected the 2006 PC configuration to be:

4-6GHz processor
2GB+ memory
1TB hard drive
Graphics processor 3X today's performance
1GB Ethernet, 54Mbps wireless networking

I would say that Microsoft hit the targets set in 2003, but software developers and hardware manufacturers haven't quite caught up. That's a message Microsoft needs to get out to its hardware partners this week at WinHEC and in October to its developers.

In my experience, most Vista problems are a result of insufficient computing power or incompatible software applications or drivers. I resolved the former by moving to the lovely Lenovo ThinkPad T60p. Vista still is a dog getting out of the gate, meaning slow bootup or wakeup, but she's a gallant race horse once moving.

Microsoft built Vista for the future, which is a commendable, even if risky, approach. It's partners are playing catch up—and many are bound to make decisions that will turn that "Wow" into "What?"

The May 15 New Yorker has a wonderful profile of esteemed Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg. The recounted exchange between Mossberg and representatives of Samsung and Sprint is a textbook case of what's wrong with the technology industry. The hardware goals—of giving little and extending more by making the consumer buy more—are shortsighted. There is in the approach no vision or understanding about the emotion people attaching to things.

Microsoft makes plenty of mistakes, but the company also is constrained by what its partners are willing to do, what they won't do or what they do wrong.

I remember when HP put VGA rather than DVI graphics cards in Media Center PCs that would be connected to DVI-capable flat-panel monitors. The analog VGA simply didn't carry the same visual bang as the digital DVI. But the whole point of a Media Center PC is the visual and audio experience. HP chose to trim margins in the wrong place.

It's easy to knock Vista because the experience isn't that much better than Windows XP. But the foundation for the Wow is there. The applications are not, and even there Microsoft shares blame with its partners. Windows Live Messenger should be a showcase for Windows Presentation Foundation and other .NET Framework capabilities. Yahoo showed off a real Vista instant messenger in January. It's now May. Where the hell is it?

With so few truly Vista applications available, shouldn't there be great opportunity for those developers that get their products out in front of the rest?

Vista's most obvious benefit is the visual experience, and this is analogous to GUI advancements in the early 1990s. Vista is one step—or two—ahead of applications and many PC configurations. It's long past time for Microsoft partners to catch up.

boop beep boop beepa beepa beep beepa boop beep boooooop boooooooo...

Isn't that a shame about that mother that smothered all her babies to make sure she had enough milk for her cats?

Oh, sorry, I was so busy chatting with the other baby sitters and Mister Frickaseed didn't see you shoosh up. What was that, a flying camel or a flying squirrel?

Yes, reading is hard and it's even painful but you have to or have somebody read to you because you won't get this information by osmosis.

Don't talk with your mouth full.

1 comment:

poscash said...

Hey Portuno!
We hope you are joking about not posting anymore! Your findings and explanations as well as humor is much appreciated around here and at the laughing place #2. Please continue and I believe most longs feel like something is about to break here so we are holding our breath......for a very long time!!
Thanks again for all of your time and contributions and please keep writing!